Friday, April 17, 2009

Word of the Day: Chthonian (gesundheit!)

Occasionally, I come across a word I couldn't even imagine existed, have never heard and couldn't make up if my life depended on it. Today was such a day.

Chthonian (tho' ne un): Pertraining to the deities, spirits and other beings dwelling under the earth.

A variation was used in Meghan Cox Gurdon's brilliant essay in today's Wall Street Journal on eco-propaganda in children's literature (Carl Hiaasen being her poster boy in this case).

If you have somehow missed the fact that April 22 is Earth Day, it's probably because you are grown up. Were you a child, there's not a chance you'd be allowed to miss the urgent chthonic nature of the day -- nor the need to recycle, to use water sparingly, to protect endangered creatures and generally to be agitated about a planet in peril.
This weekend in the mountains, as I lay down on the ground to sleep under the stars, I will no doubt listen for faint chtonic sounds emanating from below me, maybe from the goddess pictured here.
And it'll probably keep me awake all night!


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